It is in the natural order of things that we commemorate the combat sacrifices of our armed forces. But it is also appropriate to remember those who risk their lives—sometimes making the ultimate sacrifice—while accomplishing missions deemed essential yet outside the “normal” realm of hostilities.
At the end of World War II, with the Nazis no longer serving as a common enemy to bind the United States and the Soviet Union together in an unlikely alliance, these two emerging superpowers assumed their more natural roles as adversaries. War weariness and the emergence of weapons too destructive to contemplate using except in the most desperate circumstances kept the two nations from settling their massive differences on the battlefield. Instead, the “Eagle” and the “Bear” assumed largely defensive postures that included an ever-present threat of hostilities to keep the other side at bay.